Biosecurity considerations to protect your equine investment
Simple biosecurity measures can help to reduce chances of infectious disease introduction to your horse or horse farm.
As spring gets into full swing, many equine owners take advantage of the opportunities and activities that are offered and/or are available throughout the equine community. These activities may range from trade shows, exhibitions, horse sales, trail rides, to visiting other farms, etc. When planning activities, it is important to have a year round biosecurity plan in place on and off the farm in order to reduce the risk associated with infectious disease spread or introduction to your horse or farm. Here are a few practical biosecurity measures to consider both on and off your horse farm:
for visitors – Designate an area for visitor parking to prevent any unwanted
traffic around your farm. Request that visitors have clean boots and/or provide
them with plastic protective pull -on covers. Provide a hand washing/hand
sanitizer station before having contact with horses.
Designate boots for your farm as compared to other farms, sale
& show facilities. Change clothing (home vs. fair, show, trail ride, etc.)
Use of equipment -if borrowing, clean before use and upon returning it. This includes:
tack, trailer, tractor, etc. Additionally, it is never a bad idea to wash your
vehicle’s tires occasionally.
and water –
In an effort to prevent fecal contamination from mice/rats, birds,
dogs, cats, livestock and other wildlife, store grain/concentrate in an
appropriate container. Away from the farm - DO NOTS: use community water
troughs, feed buckets or allow horses to community graze with other horses. DO:
Bring your own feed and water buckets if warranted.
– Prevent horse nose to nose contact with unfamiliar horses when off the farm.
Avoid shared feed, water and/or equipment with horses not from your farm. Have
the appropriate updated documentation if needed: Official Certificate of Health,
Coggins test, vaccination, deworming. If you have purchased a new horse or
welcome a visiting horse, isolate this horse from other horses on your farm for
30 days. Your horses that routinely exit the farm for show, tail rises, etc
should be housed and pastured separately from the animals that never leave the
property. Be sure to care for/visit quarantined horses last to avoid potential
Insects serve as vectors for disease. Debris management is critical
in avoiding places for unwanted insects to thrive. Be sure to clean up spoiled
feed, manure, used bedding, and weeds. Do not allow standing water in pails,
old tires, on tarps, etc as mosquitoes can mature in a few days. In addition, water
containers should be emptied and cleaned occasionally.
Limit fecal – oral contact by having an appropriate manure
management plan. Composting manure works well to kill parasites and weed seeds.
If planning to spread manure on pastures, do this during non-grazing periods
when horses will be removed from the area. If dragging a dry lot – do this on hot,
dry days to potentially allow heat to kill some of the parasites. When away
from the farm, clean up after your horse by using your own pick or shovel. If
you lend your pick or shovel to someone else or clean up after someone else’s
horse, be sure to clean and disinfect it before putting it back in your trailer
or bringing it home.
At minimum, a biosecurity plan should include: clean boots, clean hands, clean clothes and clean equipment. Remember that you don’t have to live in a bubble, but be aware of the risks and have a year round plan to reduce those associated risks.
Additional information: The University of Guelph, along with Colorado State University and sponsored by the American Association of Equine Practitioners Foundation (AAEP Foundation) and Vétoquinol Canada Inc. have developed an equine biosecurity risk calculator that is available for horse owners to evaluate what their respective equine biosecurity risks may be.